I’ll start with something simple: circle July 23rd.
An agreement has virtually been in place since Friday that will end the NFL Lockout and return football to the masses. News has been pouring in from all sources from ESPN to Joe’s Football Fan Blog since Friday about when the lockout will end but we now have a bit of a time table.
League operations are predicted to be resumed July 23rd.
First off, the two sides in the dispute want a global settlement meaning basically no loose ends will go untied. This means that all of the cases currently opened must be resolved in one giant package before the CBA is ratified by a vote. These cases include:
- The settlement of all litigation between the NFLPA and NFL
- TV Revenue Damages
This case involves the NFLPA filing against the NFL and claiming that they are owed $4 Billion in damages or “money left on the table” that they feel they are owed. When the NFL re-negotiated it’s TV contracts the NFLPA claims the NFL failed to secure fair TV deals.
This is the basic cause of the Lockout. Brady’s name is supposed to represent the NFL Players as once they de-certified, they were no longer the NFLPA and couldn’t file suits or represent themselves as such.
This alleges the NFL of denying retired players compensation for money made off of them post their playing careers.
With everyone in universal agreement about the CBA(well just 24 of the 32 owner votes are needed), the NFLPA will re-certify and league operations will continue. This is projected to all go down on Thursday, when according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the league wants all key executives to be in attendance at a conference in Atlanta, GA that day.
This means that the NFL executives could vote and ratify the new CBA on Thursday and everything could be wrapped up by Friday or Saturday. With all the legal mumbo-jumbo out of the way, this means that regular league operations will be allowed to resume; the key operation at this juncture is free agency.
The current timetable for free agency beginning is one week after the lockout ends. That would place the official start of free agency on July 28th. ESPN’s John Clayton has stated that teams will be given July 23rd as the date where teams can begin to renegotiate deals with their potential free agents.
This all of course hinges on the fact that the CBA is done by this weekend, which it continues to look like is going to be what happens. One thing that is for certain is that football is awfully close to being returned to the masses and both sides have to view the ramifications to their pocket books and reputations if they renege on this latest tease of football being restored.